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Game #150: Smolinski, Rangers rock the Kazmir

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Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Rosales was batting third tonight. The Rangers won anyway, 6-3. That's all you really need to know, but by all means, proceed if you're a sadist.

OK, so you're a sadist, but I'm still going to try to keep it short.

Derek Norris, clearly not 100 percent or particularly close after sustaining a hip injury earlier in the week, started anyway against a right-handed pitcher and gave up two stolen bases. Why Geovany Soto wasn't playing in his place remains a mystery, especially considering that Norris' principal role on this club is to mash left-handed pitching.

Jed Lowrie, not injured and in no way at a disadvantage tonight, made a massively important error in the top of the 5th inning on a routine grounder from Ryan Rua. Lowrie's throw sailed high, allowing Adrian Beltre to score from second base, but worse, leading to two further RBI singles that gave Texas a three-run inning and a 6-2 lead, rather than a 4-2 or maybe even a 3-2 lead.

Scott Kazmir, fresh off a rather dominant performance in the South Side of Chicago, looked eminently mashable tonight, giving up nine hits in just 13 outs of work. The low point of his night was a booming home run by Jake Smolinski. Kazmir didn't know who Smolinski was, either, but the blast (the first of Smolinski's career) opened up the scoring, and Kazmir never recovered.

Brandon Moss....well, Moss was a bright spot. He went 1-for-2 with a walk and a home run, a booming shot over the last row of the right-field bleachers that made for his second four-bagger in as many games. Brandon Moss might be back, and if the A's have any hope of advancing past the AL Wild Card Game, he needs to be.

Josh Donaldson was a bright spot as well, going 2-for-4 with a double. Though he scuffled midway through the season, Donaldson has been a consistently productive presence all throughout his team's scuffles, and that was no different tonight. But he desperately needs a supporting cast, and an injured Derek Norris, overmatched Brandon Moss (well, not anymore), and home-run-or-nothing Adam Dunn aren't currently doing the trick.

Nick Tepesch came away from the Coliseum with a quality start in hand, somehow. He allowed five hits and walked two, but the A's couldn't push more than three runs across.

That might have something to do with their tendency to supply extra-base hits with two out, as both Josh Donaldson and Reddick did tonight. Donaldson was stranded by an Adam Dunn pop-up, while Norris marooned Reddick at third with a feeble groundout to Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus.

Before this weekend, the A's hadn't won consecutive games in nearly three weeks. The wins over Seattle were objectively big and magnified because one came in a Felix Hernandez start, but Oakland quickly brought things crashing back down to earth tonight.

This is still a team mired in a slump, and the many who assumed that a six-game visit from Texas and Philadelphia was a no-questions-asked cure-all were in for a rude awakening tonight. The A's get five more chances against some very subpar opposition before a three-game visit from the Angels. And much as it might pain the typical A's fan, the Angels could be taking things easy that series, because they'll clinch the division within the next day or two. Essentially, the A's have eight more home games plus a road series in Arlington to wake up.

The first of those eight games is tomorrow, also a 7:05pm start, with Jeff Samardzija taking on Derek Holland, who is 1-0 with an 0.86 ERA with no walks in 21 innings since returning from surgery. He's exactly what the A's need, really.